Los Angeles, CA – The JusticeLA Covid-19 Response Team, a diverse team of more than 40 local and statewide organizations have filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the Sheriff over jail conditions due to COVID-19.
The lawsuit / list of demands include:
1. Communication: Effectively communicate to all incarcerated people, including low-literacy and non-English-speaking people, sufficient information about COVID-19, measures taken to reduce the risk of transmission, and any changes in policies or practices to reasonably ensure that individuals are able to take precautions to prevent infection. Effective communication must include in- person communication rather than instruction through a video only.
2. Entrance Screening: Perform pre-intake screening for all staff and new entrants for symptoms of COVID-19 upon entry (or re-entry). This includes temperature screening of all staff and new entrants, as well as a verbal symptom check.
3. Quarantine New Admissions: Quarantine all new entrants for 14 days before they enter the general population by cohorting daily intakes if necessary.
4. Housing: To the extent possible, house jail detainees in cells instead of dormitories. Recommend that those persons sharing sleeping quarters sleep head- to-foot. To the extent practicable, beds in housing units should be rearranged to allow for sufficient separation during sleeping hours.
5. Social Distancing: Whenever possible, require all staff and incarcerated persons to maintain a distance of six feet from one another.
6. Hand Hygiene: Ensure that each incarcerated person receives, free of charge: (1) an individual (and ample) supply of hand soap (liquid if possible) sufficient to allow frequent hand washing; and (2) paper towels for hand drying. Ensure that any and all soap dispensers in communal areas are adequately stocked with liquid soap. Require that all LASD staff working in County jails wash their hands, apply hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, or change their gloves both before and after interacting with any person or touching surfaces in cells or common areas.
7. Disinfection of Surfaces: Ensure that staff or incarcerated workers, several times a day, clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and objects in common areas, with EPA-registered disinfectants; provide jail detainees with cleaning supplies – including access to EPA-registered disinfectants or disinfectant wipes – so that they can clean surfaces within their own living spaces. (High touch areas include phones, doorknobs, sink handles, toilet handles, and recreation equipment). Facility staff must ensure there is adequate supervision of all individuals responsible for cleaning and disinfecting these areas.
9. Hygiene Generally: Provide access to daily showers and daily access to clean laundry, including clean personal towels and washrags after each shower. Ensure showers are cleaned and disinfected at least daily and that incarcerated persons have supplies to clean showers between uses. Provide more frequent access to laundry, at least twice weekly, which should be possible given the reduction in population that has already occurred.
10. PPE for Jail Staff & Incarcerated Persons: Require that all jail staff and incarcerated persons wear PPE consistent with CDC guidelines. Ensure that all staff working in County jails wear personal protective equipment, including CDC-recommended surgical masks (if surgical masks are limited staff should wear cloth face masks).
11. Testing: Conduct immediate testing for incarcerated persons displaying known symptoms of COVID-19 consistent with Department of Public Health criteria for testing in congregate living environments.
12. Isolation for Confirmed and Suspected Covid-19 Cases: Ensure that individuals identified as having COVID-19 are medically isolated pursuant to CDC guidelines. Use cohorts only for individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, not suspected cases. Ensure that medically isolated individuals have continued access to showers, recreation, mental health services, reading materials, phones, cleaning supplies, communications with counsel, and personal property.
13. Quarantine for Close Contacts of Covid-19 Cases: Ensure that individuals identified as close contacts of COVID-19 cases are quarantined pursuant to CDC guidelines. Cohorting may be used for quarantined persons consistent with CDC and Public Health guidelines.
14. Co-Pays for Medical Care: Waive all medical co-pays for those experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms and waive all charges for medical grievances during this health crisis.
The JusticeLA Covid-19 Response Team includes ACLU OF Southern California, Civil Rights Corps, Youth Justice Coalition , American Civil Liberties Union, Dignity & Power Now and others.
Click here to learn more about the petition in support of the lawsuit.